Grants to Bettina Meinow and Ingemar Kåreholt from the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare (Forte)

We proudly present and congratulate Bettina Meinow and Ingemar Kåreholt who have been awarded grants from the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare (Forte). See below descriptions of the projects:

Bettina MeinowBettina MeinowLonger lives, healthier lives? Patterns of severe health problems and dependency in the last years of life

Evidence from Sweden and other countries shows that the relatively healthy and independent period after retirement, the so-called “third age”, lasts longer than it did a few decades ago. However, it remains unclear whether a longer “third age” also involves a shorter “fourth age”—the period before death with poor health and dependence on long-term care (i.e., home-help services or institutional care). The project examines whether this last stage in life has been compressed to a shorter time or whether it has expanded, as more recent cohorts survive longer despite health problems.

Two approaches will be used to approximate the fourth age:

  • Register study: The first approach will use long-term care as an indicator of dependency in the “fourth age”. Based on, e.g., the national Social Services Register and the national Causes of Death Register, we will analyze entrance into and duration of long-term care use for self-care activities of daily living. To what extent do patterns vary by gender, education, and civil status, and the age of entrance into long-term care?
  • Health expectancies: Changes between 2004 and 2014 in the average expected lifetime at age 70 with poor health and/or dependency will be estimated using a range of health indicators from a national representative survey of older people aged 70+ (SWEOLD). Which indicators show compression, expansion or postponement at the end of life? Do trends differ by gender and education?

Most people in Sweden die after age 80, and deaths after 80 are seldom sudden. That is, most people experience a fourth age. These studies will contribute to our understanding of this last phase of life. The findings will have implications for estimations of future resource needs, and also for the structure and organization of appropriate care services.


Ingemar KåreholtIngemar Kåreholt: Psychosocial working conditions and late-life physical functioning: What role do gender and socioeconomic position play? 

The proportion of people with functional limitations increases with age.
Physical functioning is related to quality of life, independence, wellbeing, and societal costs for care in old age. Most adults spend a considerable amount of time at work, making working conditions a major player in late-life health. However, only a few studies to date have analyzed psychosocial working conditions in relation to late-life health, and even fewer in relation to physical functioning. Prevalence of functional limitations is greater in old women than men. There are also important differences in labor market exposures for women versus men. It is therefore important to carefully consider gender when studying influence of working conditions on health.

In the project we will examine:

1) The associations between a wide range of psychosocial working conditions (e.g., work stress and work complexity), before retirement age and physical functioning (tests of strength and range of motion, grip strength, lung function, activities of daily living, self-reported mobility, and hand function) in old age (69+).

2) How these associations vary between women and men with different socioeconomic position (e.g. education, income, and social class based on occupation).

3) How these associations differ depending on personal resources (e.g. sense of coherence, social support) and work-life balance (leisure activities, family situation, and hour of housework).

4) The projected physical functioning for old persons up to the year 2030, as predicted from our results.

Swedish nationally representative samples were interviewed in 1968, 1974, 1981, 1991, 2000, and 2010, and re-interviewed in 1992, 2002, 2004, 2011, and 2014 (age 69+) allowing for up to 46 years of follow-up.

The project will give important insights into the long-term consequences of psychosocial working conditions on late-life physical functioning, which will serve an important role in improving well-being and reducing health care costs in older adulthood.